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no time for zen

SageOneís Zen Garden links to my post from this morning and has this to say about it:

This is why people go crazy. When you think something bad is going to happen, it usually does. Stop thinking that way and just live life. The minute you start analyzing why things happened or concentrating on bad feelings, they come true. Just let what should be, be. Dwelling doesn't do anyone any good. Everything happens for a reason - good and bad.

Thinking about bad things does not make them happen. If that were true then you would have to say that, conversely, thinking about good things makes them happen and we all know what a crock that is.

My thinking about a terrorist attack - here or in another country - will have nothing to do with it when the inevitable happens and some militant Muslim somewhere blows up a busload of children or a hospital or synagogue. If I keep thinking that an elephant with wings is going to plow into my house, does that mean it will eventually happen? If I think really, really hard and long? Or does Sage mean in a more general sense, like if I keep thinking something bad will happen it will happen to someone, somewhere? Perhaps I am responsible for someone else's kidney stone? There must be bad karma zinging around the world like a pinball hitting bumpers. Hey, it lit all six letters in the word TERROR! You get one extra ball and a suicide bombing in Iraq! Ding, Ding!

Itís in my nature to analyze things. I canít look at the hole in the ground where the World Trade Center used to be and not analyze it, not think about why it happened, not concentrate on all the bad feelings that come with the memory of that day. You can't just wish away bad feelings on a birthday candle. You can't make them disappear with a kiss from your mommy. Reality just will not let that happen.

Sage says ďstop thinking and just live life,Ē but you cannot live life without thinking about all that makes your life what it is. To stop thinking about world events would be to give in to ignorance and I refuse to be ignorant when it comes to what goes on in this world because, in the end, it affects me. It affects you. What happens in Saudi Arabia today will have some impact on you at some point, whether you realize it or not.

Who is going to help make a difference in the world? The people who walk around with their heads in the clouds and a fixed smile on their faces or the people who analyze and ask why? I donít want to be that person who just sits idly by, only reading the comics in the newspaper and watching sitcoms on tv and then looking around in dumb wonder when some factory worker goes bezerk and wipes out an entire town.

I donít believe that everything - good or bad - happens for a reason. That's the biggest cop-out for people who don't want to look for answers - or maybe don't want to know the answers. There is no possible reason you can give that will make me feel any better about 9/11, or a child being starved to death by his parents or someoneís house burning down. What cosmic, mystical reason could there be for such evil and ugliness and destruction to exist?

I can no more make my bad feelings come true than I can fly if I think happy thoughts. Life isnít a fairy tale. That blockquoted paragraph up there is the equivalent of turn that frown upside down, or donít worry be happy. Both are phrases conjured up by the eternal optimist. Itís also that optimist who can sweep away the sorrows of death and destruction with the neat little ďeverything happens for a reasonĒ phrase.

Crazy? Not a chance. Iím a realist. I accept that bad things will happen because there are bad people in this world. Itís not all part of some great cosmic plan that is designed to take us from point A to point B with all the murders and rapes and wars in between those points serving as stepping stones. Itís life. Itís humanity. It all sucks sometimes and not thinking about it will only make it suck more when it happens to you and youíre shell shocked into near-insanity because of your insistence on not ever giving it thought.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is your damn moment of zen.

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» Everything Zen from Inoperable Terran
Michele is accused of concentrating too much on negative things. She has an appropriate reply.... [Read More]

» Kleenex Anyone? from SageOne's Zen Garden
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Michele and SageOne go at it in a caged Zen grudge match. It's an interesting theological discussion. So I'll tell you my Zen moment for the day. I hooked up Rush Limbaugh's program through the stream in my office, and... [Read More]

Comments

I think you're right!

Yes and no. If you expect bad things, then you will notice and focus on the bad things that are always happening, and you will fail to notice the good things.

Conversely, if you choose to focus on the good things that are also always happening, you will notice them more readily and be able to take advantage of them. And that CAN cause more good things to happen.

Sounds like bullshit, I know. It's true though.

But other than that I agree with you.

All you need now, Michele, is a long, flowing white beard and a mountain top. Oh, and wise one, if you could flash your breasts from time to time, that would help immensely.

Just because I write about the bad things does not mean I am not living the good things.

See, Ryan understands about the good things...

"Surely this is the best of all possible worlds!" spoken by Pangloss, Zadig's teacher in Voltaire's Zadig... (I am not thinking of Candide am I? They are so similar!)

Is there a threat? Of course there is. The thing that people need to be careful of is creating more of a circumstance then really exists.

In 10 years, we have two terrorist attacks on U.S. soil at the same site (WTC) Given the history of world affairs re: terrorism I'd say that we're getting off lucky. Given the prior history of (lack of) terrorism in this country what would make one think that another attack is IMMINENT other than fear and an overactive imagination?

Glenn,

Beware. It was having an UNDERactive imagination that contributed to 9/11 in the first place. I'd rather be conscious of all possible scenarios than bask in blissful ignorance.

Visualize whirled peas.

Riyadh delenda est!

My personal motto: "Don't think about it. Drink about it."

It may have been underactive imaginations by us, the people. But since when do the common folk have the power to sniff out a terrorist threat? Since when do the common folk have the power to investigate and prevent a terror attack on the scale of 9/11. Not now, not ever. We pay the gvt. big bucks to figure that stuff out, let them handle it. When death comes a callin' ain't nuthin' we can do to turn him away.

In retrospect, I really don't think the fact of 9/11 ever really shocked me. I do remember having zero patience for all the hand-wringing "has America finally lost its innocence?" crap that went around not long after.

But frankly, I have a hard time understanding people who think there are things that just won't be done sooner or later by somebody. Maybe I have a broader idea of what my fellow man is capable of -- in both directions.

Either (a) everything happens for a reason, or (b) it doesn't. I can't imagine any sort of "in-between" scenario. Some people think the question is unanswerable and therefore not worth considering, but I think the answer you give will have a profound effect on how you handle the ups and downs of life.

Those of us who posit (a) are not necessarily Pollyannas, whistling in the dark. We accept that the reasons for certain events may not even be knowable in this or any other lifetime. But the general idea is that history is moving toward some sort of purposeful, ultimately positive, direction.

Take a lesson from Gandalf:

Frodo: It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance.

Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

glenn - I often drive on the Jersey turnpike, so Iíve always been comfortable with the idea of sudden death and unexpected happenings. But random chance is different from deliberate murder.

If someone says they would like to kill me (and they mean it) then Iíd be much happier if they didn't get the chance to succeed. Taking care of this problem is the governments job, but as the actions of the people on flight 93 proved, ordinary people can do a lot when theyíre aware of the danger.

Glenn, luck has nothing to do with it. There have only been 2 serious attacks on American soil in the last 10 years thanks to the efforts of the American Intelligence Community. But nobody's perfect, and tragedies happen.

This is a perfect example why I'm not a Buddhist. I tried it for awhile, but it's too accepting of the things that happen, and deep in my heart I believe that we need to fight against evil and injustice, and that accepting the world as it is only leads to greater evil in the long run.

Worry now or regret later. Prepare for the worst while enjoying the best.

Self-fulfilling prophesy is a very real thing, but it's also most important at the individual level - if you think you're going to do badly on a test, the chances that could happen do go up.

That's different from worrying about how a country can best deal with terrorist threats. Michele is right - even though terrorism is a global issue, it's an important, complex one that we ignore at our own peril. "There's nothing I can do so I'll just let the government handle it" is a dangerous attitude, no matter what your specific political persuasion. It puts you at risk both from the terrorists, and from those within who would try to take advantage of the situation to eliminate our civil liberties.

Anything can be taken to an unwarranted extreme, but I don't think that Michele has in general been wrong to raise these concerns. I'm not gonna worry about her unless she appears to lose her sense of humor, and I've seen no evidence of that as of yet. ;-)

When I say "luck" I'm not speaking literally. Perhaps "fortunate" would have been a better word? My sentiment remains the same though.

"But since when do the common folk have the power to sniff out a terrorist threat? Since when do the common folk have the power to investigate and prevent a terror attack on the scale of 9/11. Not now, not ever. We pay the gvt. big bucks to figure that stuff out, let them handle it. When death comes a callin' ain't nuthin' we can do to turn him away."

I must say that I find this kind of deliberate helplessness deeply disquieting. There's so much wrong with this attitude that I honestly don't know where to start.

This may be nit-picking, but the attacks didn't both occur at the same site. The Pentagon was also hit, and it is theorized that the fourth plane was destined for the White House. It don't think our enemies have gotten it out of their system yet.

The common folk have the power to make vigilance against terrorism a political issue by obsessing on it constantly. The fate of campaign finance reform doesn't keep me up at night.

David,

"deeply disquieting" or knowing my place in society?